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Coleman-Franken legal teams meet Friday with judges but far apart on scheduling desires

The legal teams for Al Franken and Norm Coleman are set to meet in chambers with the three-judge election panel Friday morning in Ramsey County District Court.

This much we know: There will be no agreement on how to proceed with the trial. Not by a long shot.

No word yet on whether the shape of the table or color of the rugs will be in dispute.

The scheduling chasm between the two campaigns was apparent during a news briefing late this afternoon by Coleman lawyers Fritz Knaak and Tony Trimble.

The Coleman side completely rejected the Franken schedule, and Knaak said of the Franken timeline: “I don’t think it was serious.”

Clearly, a key Coleman theme going into the trial, despite Franken’s 225 vote lead as declared by the State Canvassing Board, is: “Al Franken did not win this election. Al Franken is not a United States Senator. Al Franken is not entitled to an election certificate. Al Franken has an artificial lead,” as Knaak said.

Knaak and Trimble shot down the notion, espoused earlier today by Franken lawyer Marc Elias, that their case was in search of evidence.

Not true, they say.

“They know the facts aren’t on their side,” Knaak countered. “This is not Canvassing Board Lite.”

The meaning there: The board, although four of its five members are judges, was “ministerial.” In contrast, the court can take evidence, present witnesses, cross-examine them, etc.

The Franken side earlier today said it wants to start the trial Jan. 26 and hopes to see it end by Feb. 13.

Knaak produced one of the more poetic turns of phrase heard thus far in this recount tug-o-war.

Claiming the Franken side merely wants the three-judge panel to rubber-stamp the Canvassing Board, Knaak said, “It’s an insult to the intelligence of these judges and a big whack-a-mole over the head to the voters of Minnesota whose votes have yet to be counted.”

No one, before today, had used the term whack-a-mole in regard to this recount. Mark this as a day in history.

The Coleman side Wednesday laid out its proposed five-phase schedule: dealing first with absentee ballots and how they were counted and accepted; then, alleged duplicates; then, the 133 missing votes in Minneapolis that have been counted via the Election Night tapes; then, some voter intent issues from the State Canvassing Board; and then, any other dangling issues.

Their schedule could lead to a trial ending in late February, if not later.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Supreme Court will hear arguments on Feb.5 about whether Franken can receive an interim election certificate, pending the outcome of the contest trial. In the meantime, Minnesota has one senator.

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